DAVID MICHAEL RICHEY (February 11, 1938 – May 31, 2015), better known as Slim Richey, was an American jazz guitarist, fiddle player, bandleader, and publisher who was known for his long white beard and eclectic guitar style that crossed genres from jazz to swing to country. Slim's self-proclaimed moniker, "The most dangerous guitar player in Texas" was displayed on the The Paramount Theatre Marquee in Austin, Texas, on June 1, 2015, in remembrance to his contribution to Texas music.
Richey was born in Atlanta, Texas, and became a jazz enthusiast at an early age, starting a swing band in high school. He went to college at the University of Oklahoma, studying with Benny Garcia and taking up the style of jazz guitar playing epitomized by Hank Garland and Barney Kessel, and Wes Montgomery.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Richey ran Warehouse Music, a mail order company that marketed instructional materials for students of bluegrass music. The company also developed one of the very first commercially-produced variable speed tape machines designed to assist in transcribing recorded music. These were quite costly at the time, and lacked the precision that is available now with inexpensive software, but were well received by transcriptionists at the time.
Richey also ran a number of record labels, most memorable being Ridge Runner Records. Specializing primarily in acoustic music from Texas and Oklahoma, the label produced some groundbreaking projects which are still cherished and studied today. Among those were early records from Sam Bush and Alan Munde (solo and as a team), Country Gazette, Roland White, Buck White, Marty Stuart, Joe Carr, Bill Lister, and others.
In 1977 Slim Richey recorded "Jazz Grass", an album of mostly bluegrass musicians forsaking their mountain roots to play more harmonically-sophisticated jazz. Richey was featured on guitar. Alan Munde, Bill Keith, and Gerald Jones played banjo; Richard Greene, Ricky Skaggs, and Sam Bush were on fiddle; Joe Carr and Kerby Stewart played mandolin; and Dan Huckabee was on dobro. Tracks included interpretations of jazz standards Stompin’ At The Savoy and Night In Tunisia next to Richey’s originals.[
Richey moved to [Driftwood, Texas], near Austin in 1992 and was a fixture of the local music scene for over 20 years. He often performed at Old Settler's Music Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival. He also played at the Django Reinhardt Festival in Fort Worth, Texas, with Slim Richey's Stray Gypsies.
He was known for encouraging Austin’s young musicians, including Kat Edmonson, who was 22 when she met Richey in 2005.
In 2012 he was left unconscious after being hit by an SUV hit-and-run driver.
In 2013 his band Jitterbug Vipers released Phoebes Dream, an album of original tunes written in style of the 1940s jazz swing era, and featuring lyrical references to the 1940's Hipster jazz scene which historically includes references to marijuana, a legal drug during prohibition.
In 2014 Richey and the Jitterbug Vipers were featured on Michael Feinstein's NPR show Song Travels. Richey won Best Electric Guitarist at the 2014 Austin Music Awards.[10
Richey died of Lymphoma on May 31, 2015 in Dripping Springs near Austin, Texas.
On Monday June 1, 2015 venues Richey had played, including the The Paramount Theatre in Austin and The Kessler in Dallas, displayed remembrances on their Marquees.
1.Peter Blackstock. "Slim Richey, 1938-2015: Austin jazz guitarist". Austin Statesman. 2.Doug Freeman. "Viper Moon". Austin Chronicle. 3.Price, Michael (2006). Daynce of the Peckerwoods: The Badlands of Texas Music. Music Mentor Books. 4.Robert Francis. "Slim Richey 1938-2015: Texas guitarist crossed the borders of jazz, bluegrass, country". Fort Worth Business Press. 5."A5A Presents Django Reinhardt Festival 2014". Fort Worth Weekly. 6."Kat Edmonson Loves Austin, Texas". Huffington Post. 7."Austin musician Slim Richey talks about hit and run". KVUE. 8.Donna Marie Miller. "Jittberbug Vipers Keeping Austin Vintage and Weird". Austin Fusion Magazine. 9."Jittberbug Vipers on NPR Song Travels". NPR. 10."2013 Austin Music Awards".
Click below to view Slim's youtube performances: